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Students at McPherson Middle School walk out to protest new curriculum

Published: Jan. 29, 2019 at 10:25 PM CST
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Students in McPherson Tuesday walked out to protest a new curriculum put in place at the beginning of the school year. About 50 students walked out from McPherson Middle School after a flyer circulated, encouraging them to do so.

This new curriculum, called Summit Learning, is centered around an online program in which students complete assignments online and then demonstrate what they've learned in the classroom. McPherson school district superintendent Gordon Mohn explains the curriculum is designed for students to learn and progress at their own speed.

"One of the benefits that I certainly appreciate is that we can individualize the instruction and students can move at their own rate," Mohn says. "So if they're ready to move on, we don't have to wait for the entire class to move onto the next level."

Among concerns with the program is that teachers aren't as directly involved with student progress, leading to some students falling behind.

One student protesting Tuesday says teachers give worksheets and "sit back and let (students) do it" without offering guidance or demonstrating how to solve problems when students ask for help.

Mohn says he's heard concerns with the new curriculum, but also has heard plenty of support for it.

"At various times, we've had parents' concerns expressed at board meetings, but we also hear from a lot of parents and teachers who are advocates of it," Mohn says. "So as things change, we hear from both sides."

One mother says she understand that some students are struggling, but she believes a protest is not the answer.

Mohn says he will contact parents if their student walked out and ask them if they will excuse their child's absence. If the parent doesn't excuse their child's absence, the school will punish that student, he says. Mohn also plans to sent an email to parents, explaining what will happen if students walk out of class to protest in the future. He says the school district will continue to assess the curriculum throughout the year.